One-third of $2.7 million returned after Madison County swindled by cybercriminal

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Madison County is working to get back the $2.7 million it was swindled out of earlier this year.

$900,000 of the taxpayer dollars intended to go toward construction on Reunion Parkway has so far been returned to the county’s coffers. Back in March, it was discovered that a foreign cybercriminal posing as Hemphill Construction – the local company in charge of the project – was able to trick a comptroller into sending money over.

“It’s an ongoing investigation. Obviously, we’re still in the recovery process, and there is a criminal side that has been attached to that,” Sheriff Randy Tucker told the TV station on Monday. “So, out of respect to our federal and state partners who are handling the criminal aspect of it, I can’t disclose too much because it is under investigation.”

While Tucker did not say much more, he did reiterate that law enforcement is on track to cover $2.2 million over an extended period.

“It’s the point now that we’re grabbing at water drops; it’s spread out so far,” Tucker said.

The scam took place over one month’s time and included the comptroller sending three payments to someone acting under the guise of Jay Hemphill, despite the company’s president no longer being Hemphill. Since 1984, Richard Rula has served as CEO and president of Hemphill Construction. Another discrepancy not noticed by the comptroller, identified as Na’Son White, was that the email being used by the scammer ended in “.com,” and not Hemphill Construction’s “.us” suffix.

The fraud was first noticed after Hemphill Construction representatives notified White that they had not been paid, with White vouching that three payments had been made from her end – the latest being over $1.5 million on March 12.

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